Striking (Buckyballs)

A fullerene is any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. Spherical fullerenes are called buckyballs, and resemble the balls used in football.

The first fullerene to be discovered was prepared in 1985 by Richard Smalley, Robert Curl, James Heath, Sean O’Brien, and Harold Kroto at Rice University. The name was an homage to Buckminster Fuller, whose geodesic domes it resembles.

According to astronomer Letizia Stanghellini, "It’s possible that buckyballs from outer space provided seeds for life on Earth.
-Simon C. Page

Matter (Albert Einstein)

Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German theoretical physicist and chemist. Einstein’s most famous discovery was the theory of general relativity.

Einstein’s 3rd paper on Brownian Motion confirmed the atomic theory of matter. This is viewed by many as the first proof that atoms actually exist. -Simon C. Page

Atomise (John Dalton)

John Dalton (6 September 1766 – 27 July 1844) was an English chemist and physicist; professor of mathematics and natural philosophy (1793); developed atomic theory; his theory (1805) accounts for the law of conservation of mass, law of definite proportions and law of multiple proportions; produced the first table of atomic weights; colour-blind and mostly self-taught. -Simon C. Page

Revolution (Graphene)

Graphene is an allotrope of carbon, whose structure is one-atom-thick planar sheets of sp2-bonded carbon atoms that are densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice.

The term graphene was coined as a combination of graphite and the suffix -ene by Hanns-Peter Boehm, who described single-layer carbon foils in 1962. Graphene has been touted as the "miracle material" of the 21st Century.

Said to be the strongest material ever measured, an improvement upon and a replacement for silicon and the most conductive material known to man. -Simon C. Page

Ions (Lorenzo Avogadro)

Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Avogadro di Quaregna e di Cerreto (9 August 1776, Turin, Piedmont – 9 July 1856) was an Italian savant. He is most noted for his contributions to molecular theory, including what is known as Avogadro’s law.

In tribute to him, the number of elementary entities (atoms, molecules, ions or other particles) in 1 mole of a substance, 6.02214179(30)×10^23, is known as the Avogadro constant. -Simon C. Page

Atom (Ernest Rutherford)

Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson OM, FRS (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand-born British chemist and physicist who became known as the father of nuclear physics. In early work he discovered the concept of radioactive half-life, proved that radioactivity involved the transmutation of one chemical element to another, and also differentiated and named alpha and beta radiation, proving that the former was essentially helium ions. This work was done at McGill University in Canada. It is the basis for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry he was awarded in 1908 for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances materials. -Simon C. Page

Emission (Marie Curie)

Marie Skłodowska Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish-born French physicist and chemist famous for her pioneering work on radioactivity. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes — in physics and chemistry.

The contributions that Marie Curie made to science are immense. With her help, doctors have been able to treat cancer, manipulate nuclear energy and numerous other achievements have stemmed from her work.

(This design was initially created for a screening of a Marie Curie documentary.) -Simon C. Page

H20 (Henry Cavendish)

Henry Cavendish FRS (10 October 1731 – 24 February 1810) was a British scientist noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called "inflammable air".

He described the density of inflammable air, which formed water on combustion, in a 1766 paper "On Factitious Airs". -Simon C. Page

Elements (Dmitri Mendeleev)

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (8 February 1834 – 2 February 1907) was a Russian chemist and inventor.

He made a number of important contributions but is famously credited as being the creator of the first version of the periodic table of elements. Using the table, he predicted the properties of elements yet to be discovered. Element number 101, the radioactive mendelevium, was later named after him. -Simon C. Page

Substance (Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier)

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier was born in 1743. He studied mathematics and astronomy with Nicolas de Lacaille (1713-1762), chemistry with Guillaume-François Rouelle (1703-1770) and botany with Bernard de Jussieu (1699-1777) at the Collège Mazarin. From 1763-1767 he studied geology under Jean Etienne Guettard (1715-1786). He was one of the best known French scientists and an important government official.

His theories of combustion, and his development of a new system of chemical nomenclature and the first modern textbook of chemistry led to his being known as the father of modern chemistry. As a scientist, Lavoisier demonstrated the nature of combustion, disproving the phlogiston theory. He also proposed the name "oxygen" for the substance previously known as "dephilogisticated air," and laid the framework for understanding chemical reactions as combinations of elements to form new materials. -Simon C. Page

10 Posters Showing The Sweep And Grandeur Of Modern Science

Simon C. Page's designs promoting the International Year of Chemistry are inspired by stories of intrepid researchers.

Did you know that 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry? Probably not--the somewhat cheesy video promoting it has only gotten 50,000 views in the last 11 months. Sometimes if you want to help get the word out about interesting science, you have to do it yourself--which is exactly what designer Simon C. Page did when he created this set of gorgeous promotional posters for the IYC. Each one is inspired by a legendary researcher in the history of chemistry and physics, from Marie Curie (who pioneered the study of radioactivity) to Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, the "father of modern chemistry," who studied combustion.

Page (who has also done some great work for Fast Company) brings a contemporary minimalism to the posters’ design while still warmly evoking the long history of chemistry research with classy serif typography. The graphics are clever, as well: The poster illustrating the discovery of H2O (made possible by 19th century chemist Henry Cavendish’s observation of how hydrogen and oxygen combine) subtly includes water’s molecular structure into a silhouette of a faucet. "My background is more in science than design, having studied a degree in Applied Mathematics," he tells Co.Design. "Creating designs for a subject that resonates with me is what I love to do, and it is just a bonus that it is helping an industry which is struggling to be heard."

About that "struggling to be heard" bit: Page created these posters for free, with no commission, out of the goodness of his heart. (He’d also created a similar set in 2009 for the International Year of Astronomy.) The IYC found out about them and bestowed their imprimatur on Page’s work. But there’s something pathetic about the fact that talented creatives are forced to take the initiative about reaching out to these scientific organizations, instead of the other way around. The IYC is sponsored by bottomlessly wealthy companies like Dow and BASF--why couldn’t they have thrown their weight behind some genuinely innovative media outreach, like Intel does for its Creators Project? Who knows. But is it any coincidence that the resulting reaction--from too many people who might otherwise be intrigued by the IYC’s mission--is "who cares"?

It doesn’t have to be like this. Science outreach owes a debt to people like Page, who are more than willing to help it along in their spare time, pro bono. But the next time there’s an "International Year of" something amazing from the world of science, maybe the organizations behind it could get a bit more proactive about generating crossover appeal. "It certainly isn’t a lost cause for science to get an identity," says Page. "I just think it’s just going to take some time."

[Read more about Page’s posters]

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13 Comments

  • Malone

    The simplicity of Page's work is its brillance! Truly wonderful set of work. Really lovin' The Elements!

    Had this not been pro bono, I'm almost sure someone would have made him put the entire year in (2011) "...because some people won't get it!"

  • LFox

    Where can I purchase these? My daughter-in-law is a chemistry professor in a new building...what a great gift!

  • Rob Pruzinsky

    Wonderful work! Having the science community help with the outreach would be great. I'm thankful for TED Talks and other programs that create the bridge.

  • Florac

    Gorgeous and brilliant! I love how the designs weave in the background of each discovery  Also, if you are curious about some of these chemist's stories, a great book to read is Bill Bryson's "The Short History of Nearly Everything." His wit and great writing was put into a year of delving into all the sciences (like geology, paleontology, chemistry, physics, etc) and explain all the funny, sad and crazy stories behind what we know today, as well as highlight what is still being discovered.  Great read. These posters reminded me of that book! Nicely done. (Florac@jacobsagency.com)

  • Greg Salmela

    I think this is great work, using an appropriate style for the subject matter.

    E Matthews, re: your comment below, not sure what your point is. 

  • E Matthews

    It's interesting to notice that All the posters for the  International Year of Chemistry are done in the industrial graphic style of the late sixties /early seventies only this time using the harder-edge that computers generate. I think a lot of the art was removed from chemistry by these posters.

  • FredM

    Don't usually pay attention to science posts but this one has totally caught my imagination, taking me back to my chemistry classes. Amazing stuff and great execution!

  • Johnston

    Simon did an amazing job, as I remember, of spreading the word with his iconic International Year of Astronomy posters a year or so ago. Great to see him at it again and can't wait to see his next series!